Prehistoric Indian Sites
Explore the ruins of ancient sites left behind by the prehistoric Indians who once made the Ohio River their home and hunting grounds. Some of the world’s largest and most pronounced mounds and earthwork formations – the art of the Hopewell, Adena and Fort Ancient cultures – are open for public viewing.
Ohio’s earliest inhabitants left behind traces of their existence all along the beautiful river. Archaeological digs at Beaver Creek State Park have uncovered arrowheads, pottery and knives dating back to the Clovis culture – some 10,000 years ago. Over the centuries, the land was home to several Indian tribes – ending with Chief Logan a Mingo leader. The slaughter of his family was the Chief’s uundoing and led to Lord Dunmore’s War of 1774.
Ancient mounds can be spotted in several Cincinnati neighborhoods. The Norwood Mound is the most prominent – standing 10 feet high in Tower Park. At the time of the arrival of the first white settlers, there were mounds in what is now downtown Cincinnati.
The Cincinnati Museum Center hosts an interactive media program of all of the Little Miami Valley prehistoric sites.
When the pioneers of the Ohio Company settled Marietta in 1788, they came upon a grid of ancient earthworks – their purpose unknown. In part, the founders preserved the earthworks by incorporating them into the plans for the new city. The Great Conus Mound became Mound Cemetery and the burial place of Revolutionary War veterans. The remains of a network of flat pyramids and paths leading to the river – the Sacred Way – can be followed yet today.
In Athens County, The Plains, once known as The Wolf Plains, is the home of a late Adena culture group of 30 earthworks, including 22 conical mounds and nine circular enclosures.
In Meigs County, Buffington Island is home of the Price Mound – a large, conical burial mound typical of those known to have been built by the Adena culture. Just north of Chester, another Adena earthwork – the Mound Cemetery Mound is a pristine site that has never been excavated. Burial Mound in Gallia County is yet another Adena mound – turned pioneer cemetery.
The Feurt Mounds and Village Site in Scioto County is a Fort Ancient culture with three burial mounds and a village. Excavation and archaeological exploration of the site began in 1916. Artifacts of flint, stone, bone, shell and pottery were discovered along with 345 burials. Five miles northwest of Portsmouth, the Tremper Mound and Works are a Hopewell earthen enclosure and a large irregularly shaped mound believed by some to be an effigy mount originally built in the shape of an animal.
In Adams County, the Serpent Mound in Peebles is the largest effigy mound in the world. Some evidence suggests it may have been constructed around 1000 AD by the Fort Ancient culture.